U.S. Supreme Court takes up presidential Electoral College dispute

WASHINGTON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - As the 2020 race heats up, the Supreme Court agreed on Friday to hear a dispute involving the complex U.S. presidential election system focusing on whether Electoral College electors are free to break their pledges to back the candidate who wins their state's popular vote, an act that could upend an election.

The Supreme Court will take up appeals in two cases - from Washington state and Colorado - involving electors who decided to vote in the Electoral College process for someone other than Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016 even though she won the popular vote in their states. The justices will determine if such so-called faithless electors have the discretion to cast Electoral College votes as they see fit or whether states can impose restrictions including with penalties. (Reporting by Andrew Chung; Editing by Will Dunham)